More MS news articles for Mar 2002

US Orthodox Jewish groups OK cloning for research

Mar 13, 2002
Reuters Health

Two of the nation's largest Orthodox Jewish groups on Tuesday broke with conservatives from the Christian right in supporting the use of cloned embryos for medical research.

In a joint statement, the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America and the Rabbinical Council of America said, "We must be careful to distinguish between cloning for therapeutic purposes--which ought to be pursued, and cloning for reproductive purposes--which we oppose."

The use of cloned embryos for stem cell research, which has the potential to treat or cure a host of diseases, has been hotly debated in the US over the past year. While the Bush administration is backing a Senate bill authorizing a total ban on all human cloning, another bill sponsored by Senators Diane Feinstein (D-CA) and Arlen Specter (R-PA) would allow the cloning of embryos for stem cell research but prohibit reproductive cloning.

Speaking with the Washington Post, Orthodox Union Director of Public Policy Nathan Diament said the joint statement "will help people to understand that there is a religiously informed, moral basis for supporting this research that is at least as strong as the religiously informed, moral basis for opposing it."

The statement marks a break in the ranks of religious conservatives on the issue. Many Catholic and Protestant groups remain steadfast in their opposition to all forms of human cloning. Speaking for the Catholic Church, Washington's Cardinal Theodore McCarrick told the Post that the use of cloned embryos for stem cell research may lead scientists to "take on the role of God and reduce humans to mere spare parts."

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